Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 13, 2009

Obama really knows how to pick ’em

Filed under: Afghanistan,imperialism/globalization — louisproyect @ 7:41 pm

NY Times, May 13, 2009
Man in the News
A General Steps From the Shadows

By ELISABETH BUMILLER and MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the ascetic who is set to become the new top American commander in Afghanistan, usually eats just one meal a day, in the evening, to avoid sluggishness.

He is known for operating on a few hours’ sleep and for running to and from work while listening to audio books on an iPod. In Iraq, where he oversaw secret commando operations for five years, former intelligence officials say that he had an encyclopedic, even obsessive, knowledge about the lives of terrorists, and that he pushed his ranks aggressively to kill as many of them as possible.

But General McChrystal has also moved easily from the dark world to the light. Fellow officers on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he is director, and former colleagues at the Council on Foreign Relations describe him as a warrior-scholar, comfortable with diplomats, politicians and the military man who would help promote him to his new job.

“He’s lanky, smart, tough, a sneaky stealth soldier,” said Maj. Gen. William Nash, a retired officer. “He’s got all the Special Ops attributes, plus an intellect.”

If General McChrystal is confirmed by the Senate, as expected, he will take over the post held by Gen. David D. McKiernan, who was forced out on Monday. Obama administration officials have described the shakeup as a way to bring a bolder and more creative approach to the faltering war in Afghanistan.

Most of what General McChrystal has done over a 33-year career remains classified, including service between 2003 and 2008 as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, an elite unit so clandestine that the Pentagon for years refused to acknowledge its existence. But former C.I.A. officials say that General McChrystal was among those who, with the C.I.A., pushed hard for a secret joint operation in the tribal region of Pakistan in 2005 aimed at capturing or killing Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld canceled the operation at the last minute, saying it was too risky and was based on what he considered questionable intelligence, a move that former intelligence officials say General McChrystal found maddening.

Full: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/world/asia/13commander.html

The Daily Telegraph (Australia), March 28, 2007
Friendly fire death cover-up
By Richard Sisk

WASHINGTON: Four generals and five other officers were involved in a plan to cover up the friendly-fire death of football star-turned-soldier Pat Tillman, the US Army has admitted.

Their actions ”brought discredit on the army” — and let the Tillman family go to his nationally televised funeral believing their son had died charging an enemy position, acting Army Secretary Pete Geren said…

Former army Special Operations Command head Lieutenant General Philip Kensinger met the Tillman family at the funeral but said he believed ”it was not the right time” to disclose details of the death.

Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal allowed false information to be entered in the citation, posthumously awarding the Silver Star to Corporal Tillman, investigators said.

NY Times, March 19, 2006
Task Force 6-26
In Secret Unit’s ‘Black Room,’ a Grim Portrait of U.S. Abuse
By Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall

As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein’s former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government’s torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.

In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball. Their intention was to extract information to help hunt down Iraq’s most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or were briefed on its operations.

The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.

Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, “NO BLOOD, NO FOUL.” The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: “If you don’t make them bleed, they can’t prosecute for it.” According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. “The reality is, there were no rules there,” another Pentagon official said…

Some detainees may have been injured resisting capture. A spokesman for the Special Operations Command, Kenneth S. McGraw, said there was sufficient evidence to prove misconduct in only 5 of 29 abuse allegations against task force members since 2003. As a result of those five incidents, 34 people were disciplined.

“We take all those allegations seriously,” Gen. Bryan D. Brown, the commander of the Special Operations Command, said in a brief hallway exchange on Capitol Hill on March 8. “Any kind of abuse is not consistent with the values of the Special Operations Command.”

The secrecy surrounding the highly classified unit has helped to shield its conduct from public scrutiny. The Pentagon will not disclose the unit’s precise size, the names of its commanders, its operating bases or specific missions. Even the task force’s name changes regularly to confuse adversaries, and the courts-martial and other disciplinary proceedings have not identified the soldiers in public announcements as task force members.

General Brown’s command declined requests for interviews with several former task force members and with Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who leads the Joint Special Operations Command, the headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C., that supplies the unit’s most elite troops.

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/international/middleeast/19abuse.htm

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